Cheap Seats 2019
Surreal - 12/25
By Rich Trzupek
Well that was weird. When one looks back over the events of the past couple of weeks things couldn’t have been more strange if melting clock faces littered the landscape.
There are lots of people of all political persuasions wringing their hands in despair, concerned that this remarkable country is going down the tubes faster than Augustus Gloop shot out of Willy Wonka’s factory. To quote the late John Pinette: “I say nay nay! We are not living through a tragedy, but rather a comedy.”
This particular act began with a prelude a couple of weeks ago: Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on FBI conduct during the so-called collusion investigation. Former FBI Director James Comey, demonstrating why the word “former” proceeds his position in the agency rather than the word “current,” immediately took to Twitter to declare victory. Horowitz, he crowed, had vindicated him and the Bureau.
The IG had provided Comey one lifeline, concluding that the Russia investigation was not initiated by any political animus on the part of the FBI. Unfortunately it was a perilously thin lifeline that quickly began to unravel. Horowitz may not believe the Bureau’s choice to investigate qualified as corruption, but he certainly concluded that the investigation itself was incredibly bungled, as Comey – doing the talk show circuit afterward – was finally forced to admit. If the ex-director believes that being judged incompetent rather than a criminal vindicates him, perhaps he should be awarded a participation trophy.
There are many examples of FBI arrogance and stupidity in Horowitz’s report, but I found this the most offensive. Part of the justification to the FISA court when applying for warrants to spy on the Trump campaign was the allegation that Trump advisor Carter Page may have been a Russian operative. While investigating Page before seeking the warrant, the FBI sent around a routine information request to other federal agencies asking, in essence, “hey this dude Page has been hanging out with Russians a lot – is he doing work for any of you?”
The CIA came back with an answer in the affirmative. Turns out Page was a CIA asset, helping the agency gather information on the Russians. However, in applying the FISA warrants an as-of-yet unidentified FBI lawyer added the word “not” to the CIA statement, transforming the statement that “Carter Page is a CIA asset” into “Carter Page is not a CIA asset”, both helping secure the warrants and providing hours of conspiracy-theory fun to the Democrat stooges at CNN and MSNBC.
But the main act, the climax of the whole show, was – of course – the impeachment hearings in the House. It was time for payback! The first president to be the subject of serious impeachment discussions before he took the oath of office would finally get what was coming to him. Democrats practiced saying “no one is above the law” as dramatically as possible before mirrors until they got it just right.
The “rule of law” theme might lead one to suspect that Trump was being accused of committing a crime. Except he actually wasn’t. The Dems threw the word “bribery” around a lot, but never filed charges making that accusation. They protested that Trump was obstructing Congress by asserting executive privilege, a unique theory that even liberal Constitutional scholars in the media had a hard time swallowing.
Could the Dems have picked goofier chairs to run the hearings? It is an open secret that both parties award committee chairs based on fundraising. The more bucks you bring into the party, the higher-profile your committee assignment, so the chairs aren’t always the best and brightest. But Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler? The terminally befuddled Schiff comes across like someone who grew up on the planet Zoltron, while Nadler is your weird Uncle Charlie when he forgets his medication. Yikes.
But they labored on a finally passed two articles of impeachment. Polling tells us that 30 percent – 30 percent! – of Americans believed that when the House passed the articles of impeachment President Trump was immediately kicked out of office. That whole Senate trial thing? These people didn’t even know it existed. Discretion prevents me from telling you with which party the majority of those 30 percent identify. (Hint: I don’t belong to it!)
Not that it mattered, since having passed articles of impeachment Speaker Pelosi wasn’t sure she was going to actually send them along to the Senate for trial, under another novel theory: That the House, Constitutionally required to initiate the process and draft the indictment, should also have veto power over Senate trial rules, even though the Senate alone is Constitutionally-empowered to conduct the trial.
Which puts us in this weird holding pattern. What happens next? Who knows, but here’s my entirely speculative prediction: 1) Knowing how embarrassing an impeachment trial would be to her party, Pelosi refuses to send over the articles to the Senate. 2) The Senate votes to amend their rules to force a trial with or without Pelosi’s cooperation, 3) Pelosi and the Dems still refuse to participate, so 4) the whole mess goes to the Supreme Court to sort out.
But who knows? The only thing we know for certain is that it will be damned entertaining. Pass the popcorn!